India shone at the Cannes Lions 2014 with Hindustan Unilever’s Kan Khajura Tesan – an innovative rural outreach initiative through mobile, winning three golds – two in Media for PHD India and Lowe and Partners Worldwide (Mumbai) and one in Mobile for Lowe and Partners Worldwide (Mumbai). The Kan Khajura Tesan, designed on the lines of a radio channel to provide entertainment on demand over mobile to consumers in the media dark regions of the country, became an instant hit and has, since its launch in 2013, garnered over 10 million listeners. Arpita Sharma tries to uncover the thought process that led to creation of the service in an email interview with Anaheeta Goenka, Executive Director, Lowe Lintas, the creative agency behind the concept.
Image Courtesy: SPJIMR – Anaheeta Goenka with the Gold Lions
Q. Were there any pain points from a customer perspective that HUL thought it could address through this service?
A. Our big challenge at the start, and the only challenge, was how do we reach media dark areas – which were actually “dark” as they had no electricity for 8-10 hours a day. Kan Khajura Tesan started as an initiative to provide free on demand entertainment through the mobile phone to an audience that lived in these media dark geographies.
For an entertainment starved consumer, free entertainment on demand is a big draw and through this medium we reached out to them for all of Hindustan Unilever’s brands and promotions thereof. So it’s a new invention that got together creators, content providers and the media agency to put together an ecosystem that delivered real time impact and created brand salience.
Q. Could you offer some insight into the thought process that went into actually implementing this service? Was it purely an experiment or was it driven by insights from the ground or on market research?
A. We started by studying the audience carefully. Through market research we realized that the reach of Mobile Phone is far larger than TV Sets and since the mobile phone runs on a battery, it was something that was active all day and at the same time was with them at all times. Further, we realized a lot of them would pay for music to be stored on their phone when they get their phone’s balance topped-up. We understood this opportunity and gave them a number to call on to get free entertainment on demand. The service is truly consumer focused as it allows him/ her to access entertainment when and where she desires. So we actually used a rudimentary mobile phone to reach out and turned it into a source of joy for them. That’s what Kan Khajura Tesan truly is: a real solution for real problems and to create social impact in a culturally relevant way.
Q. How was initial awareness about the service created? Do you continue to promote the number through other media?
A. Our strategy was singular and simple. We first went about creating a brand which the consumer would get pulled towards. Hence Kan Khajura as an idea — a creature which resides in the ear in these parts of India. We then decided to call it a station thereby creating an affinity with an old medium they understood to land the new idea and channel on the mobile. Then we singularly popularised the number and still do so as that’s what gets listeners in. It’s a 10 digit number and that’s a challenge in today’s day and age where people barely remember their own number!
A lot of our promotions are done through Mobile via out-bound dialing and promotional messages that act as a reminder mechanism. Besides the Mobile, we also use Print and TV medium occasionally when we tie up with some of the latest Bollywood Movies. We have also succeeded in gaining incremental awareness through on-ground visibility in melas and other on ground events.
Q. What’s the current reach of the Kan Khajura Tesan in terms of number of listeners and geographies served?
A. We have reached out to over 10 Million subscribers and we now have listeners beyond Bihar and Jharkhand.
Q. How often do users call? Have you noticed any usage patterns and are there any incentives being offered to drive audience loyalty?
A. On an average we get around 35,000 new subscribers every day, and they call 3-4 times a week. There is a spike with over 2 lakh calls on days when we use Movie Promotions. There are no incentives offered to drive audience loyalty.
Q. Any plans for widening the reach of the station? Are there plans to launch a similar service in other remote parts of India?
A. The station has already expanded its reach and is now available from anywhere in India.
Q. What is the typical content mix and how often is new content made available to listeners? Do you partner with local content providers or license content from publishers or invest in original content?
A. New content is made available every week on Monday. HUL has a team which has tied up with content providers who refresh and track content with respect to likeability and listenership. So 15 minutes of new content is being generated every week to cater to the listener’s taste and preference.
Q. How is brand HUL integrated with the program content? Is the company concentrating on promoting any specific brands and product packs through this service?
A. HUL brands’ radio spots are interspersed with the 15 mins of entertainment. There are around 4-5 brands that feature on Kan Khajura Tesan, including Clinic Plus, Lifebuoy, Wheel, Fair & Lovely etc. Promotion of brands can vary basis consumer promotions that are currently running in the market, and brand footprints and target audiences.
Q. Has there been a measurable change in brand awareness for HUL brands since the service started?
A. Within 6 months there has been a rise in spontaneous awareness for Ponds – 1400 bps, Close up-1300 bps and Wheel-1100 bps.
Q. What kind of data is being gathered about listeners of the Kan Khajura Tesan?
A. We have accumulated some healthy data on listeners. Tying up with some key Telecom providers has given us a database of subscribers to who we have reached out to. And the live tracking everyday allows us to gather listenership data which we analyse and redirect the learnings into our next capsule.
Q. Is this a limited time campaign or something that is expected to continue in perpetuity?
A. Project Kan Khajura has been a very promising exercise for HUL and looking at the success that the team has achieved, Kan Khajura definitely intends to keep crawling on and covering more and more people across India. Our ambition is to have 50 million people listening and calling in. But what delights us most is when an invention like this helped solve a true consumer problem and got smiles on the faces of about 24 million listeners.
Here’s a video of the Kan Khajura Tesan story: